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Hồ Hữu Tiệp (B-52 Lake), ngõ 55 Hoàng Hoa Thám, Quận Ba Đình, Thành Phố Hà Nội, Hanoi, Vietnam

By on September 7, 2015 in Vietnam

I felt uncertain about visiting Hồ Hữu Tiệp, ngõ 55 Hoàng Hoa Thám, Quận Ba Đình, Thành Phố Hà Nội – the B-52 Lake. I didn’t know if it was acceptable to do so, what I’d find, or how any locals would react to be visiting the site. Would it still even be there? What would I find?

I went in search of the B-52 Lake because it’s an image I remember from my childhood. I remember seeing it on the on the television news. The remains of a B-52 in a lake in Hanoi, Vietnam.

A report of what happened on the night of 18th December 1972, can be seen over at aviation-safety.net. The Boeing B-52D-75-BO Stratofortress was taking part in Operation “Linebacker II” when it was shot down by a SA-2 SAM. Of the 6 crew onboard 4 were taken as prisoners of war (Pilot/Commander:Capt Hal K Wilson USAF; Co-pilot:Capt Charles Arthur Brown USAF; Rad/Nav:Maj Fernando Alexander USAF; and Captain Henry Charles Barrows USAF), to be released in March of 1973, and two were killed (Capt Richard Waller Cooper USAF; and TSgt Charlie Sherman Poole USAF).

From where I got off the bus (see earlier blog post – Getting the bus in Hanoi, Vietnam) it seemed to be a relatively short walk to the lake. The walk actually turned out to be rather interesting as it took me through a major residential area of Hanoi, down a series of narrow lanes. Three things struck me about the lanes, one, there were not many people about (that might have been because it was early afternoon, and it was hot!); two, the lanes were surprisingly neat and tidy; and three, you have to stay alert for motorcycles coming down the narrow lanes at high speed.

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I saw very few other people in these narrow alleyways, and apart from the tourists below I seemed to be the only visitor.

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The walk through the lanes felt perfectly safe, and it was really quite an enjoyable way to see Hanoi.

As I approach the B-52 Lake I was a little unsure as to my route, however, a local who saw me pointed in the right direction. Maybe they do get tourists coming out to look at the lake?

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I rounded a corner and there was the lake. It was much smaller than I was expecting. Was it bigger back in 1972? Was the area so heavily built-up?

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But there in the lake were the remains of the B-52. The tyres could still be seen sticking out of the water, and now a tree is growing out of the wreckage.

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It really was quite an odd and eerie sight. The remains of the plane still in a lake in a residential area.

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Nearby, on a wall, was a plaque (see the photo below) explaining what happened on that night in December:

“At 23.05 on December 27, 1972, the Battalion No72 – Air Defence Missile Regiment No285 shot down on the spot a B52G of the US imperialist violating Ha Noi airspace. A part of the wreckage fell into Huu Tiep Lake – Ngoc Precinct, Ba Dinh District, Ha Noi.  The outstanding feat of arm contributed to achieving the victory “Dien Bien Phu in the Air”: defeating the US imperialist’s strategic air raid with B52 bomber against Ha Noi at the end of December 1972 and creating an important change that led the Vietnamese people’s anti-US resistance for more national salvation to the complete victory.”

Interestingly, the date on the plaque disagrees with the one on the aviation-safety.net website, where it states that the plane was shot down on the night of 18 December 1972.

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In the lake itself, there is another memorial.

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It seems surreal that it’s still there. If you turn around with your back to the wreckage it looks just like any other urban Vietnamese scene.

During my visit to the B-52 Lake I was the only person around. I didn’t see anybody else in the area, and apart from two tourist that passed me  I didn’t see any other tourists.

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On my walk back from the lake to the Botanical Gardens (my next planned stop) I passed through another square, with another lake, but this time the lake contained not the remains of a plane but a temple.

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Visiting the lake was odd. I don’t know what I was expecting, but seeing the wreckage of the B-52 still in the water, in what is now a clearly residential area seemed very strange.

Foursquare: Hồ Hữu Tiệp (B-52 Lake)

 

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